HIP Poetry Reads – All by (or part by) Martin Appleby
Holy&intoxicated Publications 2019, £5, €5, $5 + p&p
three poets 1
East London Press 2019, £6 + p&p (SOLD OUT)
Analog Submission Press 2019, £4 + p&p
Hastings poet and local litzine producer Martin Appleby describes himself as punk, scumbag and cider drinker. All of these may well be true but there is much more to the man than that. 2019 has seen Appleby blossom (excuse the dreadful pun) into a writer able to expand experience beyond the personal and root it in universal themes relevant to ordinary modern UK living. He has also found the confidence to travel his ideas and make a mark in today’s spoken word performance scene, most notably at the Manchester Punk Festival.
Appleby’s work, like so many other outlaw poets, is raw, relevant and up to date. Of course, there are references to past experiences, as even the here and now of creative expression is always influenced by the author’s own history. In his latest published works Appleby shares personal experience and feelings with splashes of comment on society. There is humour too and the reader is often left with a feel for Appleby’s own confusions along with his sense of wonder at the world around him.
Respair, 14 new poems published by local small press Holy&
intoxicated, delivers all we have come to expect from this poet, and more. Many of the works here are soaked in alcohol and scarred by troubled relationships. A recurring theme is the acknowledgement of his need to move on towards new realities and avoid wallowing in poetic escapism. There is an underlying maturity evident, both in the work and perhaps Appleby himself. ‘Fuck It’, ‘You’re My Everything’, and ‘First World Problems II’ are all examples of this.
Of the poems here that lean more towards social commentary, ‘I Don’t Have…’ and ‘What A time To Be Alive’ show awareness without condescension but also acknowledge our own responsibilities as contributors to a messed-up world. Appleby’s rhythms flow well, even when the subject matter may be potentially jarring or stilted. The rest of this bunch focus mostly on lost loves and alcohol struggles, subjects Appleby has tackled previously. ‘Respair’, the title poem, taken from an archaic word meaning fresh hope or recovery from despair, balances personal insight with real life conflict – ‘The best laid schemes…’ etc.
three poets 1 is the first of a beautifully presented limited edition series from East London Press, every copy hand-stitched with black thread. Gwil J Thomas, Ford Dagenham and Martin Appleby have five poems each. Appleby’s opener here, ‘Drinking Cider In A Park At 8am With Roots Manuva’, describes a chance encounter with the celebrated rapper and music producer, whereby he realises that sometimes we are all ‘…facing the same problems…’ no matter who we are.
Reading on, we have a repeat of ‘You’re My Everything’ from Respair and then three further new works. ‘Small Talk’ speaks to the conflict between relating to a stunted meaningless humanity and seeing any humanity disappear altogether. ‘Ex’ finds sensitive humour in mental illness, addiction and sex. ‘Constipated’ addresses writers’ block, a popular obsession for many poets and authors, and the sometimes ridiculousness of creative over-ambition in the real world.
Punk Croc is Appleby’s latest chapbook – published this week by Marc Brüseke’s popular and expansive York-based small press, Analog Submission – showcasing 13 more of his most recent works. Here he fights his corner as a champion for DIY ‘punk’ culture as an alternative to mainstream messages, with poems like: ‘War On Trump’, ‘Feeling personally Attacked…’ and ‘Always Be A Scumbag.’
The title poem ‘Punk Croc’ suggests how noticing the unremarkable of everyday living can suddenly mesmerise us and for a brief moment release us from the ills of the world. ‘Heroin And Tea’ juxtaposes two very different human rituals to point out a connection between cooking up a fix and brewing a cuppa. ‘Crush’ finds Appleby embarrassed at his first attempt at poetry as a naive and over-sentimental teenager, telling us this now informs his current style of ‘…a direct , to the point, kick your teeth down your throat kind of deal…’
three poets 1 sold out almost immediately but there are still a few copies of Respair and Punk Croc available. If you want to see how a local performance poet has progressed, I’d recommend them.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.